Air Tankers, Helicopters to Help Battle Arizona Wildfires

A 6,000-acre wildfire closed within a mile of some homes north of this eastern Arizona community, authorities said Tuesday night.

An evacuation order was put into effect late Monday afternoon for the 26 homes in two subdivisions on the fire's northern flank. Some residents in the subdivisions about 10 miles north of Heber obeyed the order, while others chose to stay.

Bob Dyson, a spokesman for the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, said the Potato fire was 40 percent contained by Tuesday night but there was no estimate for full containment.

Dyson said more air tankers and helicopters were expected on the scene Wednesday to help battle the lightning-caused fire, which started June 6.

The fire was about three-quarters of a mile from the closest home late Tuesday night and nearly 300 firefighters were working overnight to widen containment lines to keep flames from reaching the cabin communities, Dyson said.

The blaze was within two miles of the homes when the evacuation order was issued Monday afternoon. It was threatening 25 homes in the Chevelon Retreat subdivision and one home in the Chevelon Acres subdivision.

Dyson said 26 evacuees remained at a Red Cross shelter at Capps Elementary School in Heber on Tuesday night while 26 other residents opted to remain in their homes

One resident attempted to return to his home midday Tuesday by bypassing a checkpoint. He was arrested for suspicion of being intoxicated, said Greg Eavenson, chief deputy for the Navajo County Sheriff's Department.

Crews worked during the day Tuesday to build containment lines on the fire's western and northern boundaries.

A high-voltage power line in the area of the blaze has been de-energized and firefighters were working on keeping the fire east of power line, officials said.

Heber is located 140 miles northeast of Phoenix.